Henry James on Culture: Collected Essays on Politics and the American Social Scene

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Overview

The eighteen essays in this collection show Henry James (1843-1916) in a new and unexpected light -- as a political commentator and social reformer. His acute powers of observation, his unerring feel for social nuance, and his abiding interest in the news, conversations, and controversies of the moment make these essays a witty and entertaining illumination of American, British, European, and colonial society in the years from 1878 to 1917. Included are writings on British politics and diplomacy, on the language and manners of Americans, on the possibility of an afterlife, and on the heroism and human costs of the First World War. Among the subjects that interest James are France's infatuation with the Prince of Wales, the trumped-up excuses for war in Afghanistan, the brutal frankness of Bismarck, the parliamentary games of Gladstone and Disraeli, the rise of Zulu power in South Africa, the use of "yeah" and "yup" for the American affirmative, the fearlessness of American women and their immunity from criticism, the effect of chewing gum on the discussion of opera, the sufferings of Americans at the hands of store clerks, the proper degrees of gratitude for roadside bicycle repairs, the work of the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps, the use of the dash, the tyranny of the newspapers, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the conditions in military hospitals.
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Editorial Reviews

Virginia Quarterly Review
"Adds new dimension to our understanding of this great author."
Booknews
A collection of 18 articles by novelist James on the social and political issues of his day. The essays explore such issues as the possibility of life after death; British imperial politics and crises in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and South Africa, questions of gender in the United States, and the meaning of World War I. The editors argue in the introduction that the essays should be understood as cultural criticism and should inform study of James as a writer. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Virginia Quarterly Review
“Adds new dimension to our understanding of this great author.”—Virginia Quarterly Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803276192
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 226
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Pierre A. Walker is a professor of English at Salem State College and co-general editor of The Complete Letters of Henry James (Nebraska 2006).

Biography

Henry James (1843-1916), born in New York City, was the son of noted religious philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of eminent psychologist and philosopher William James. He spent his early life in America and studied in Geneva, London and Paris during his adolescence to gain the worldly experience so prized by his father. He lived in Newport, went briefly to Harvard Law School, and in 1864 began to contribute both criticism and tales to magazines. In 1869, and then in 1872-74, he paid visits to Europe and began his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Late in 1875 he settled in Paris, where he met Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where two years later he achieved international fame with Daisy Miller. Other famous works include Washington Square (1880), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Princess Casamassima (1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and three large novels of the new century, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). In 1905 he revisited the United States and wrote The American Scene (1907). During his career, he also wrote many works of criticism and travel. Although old and ailing, he threw himself into war work in 1914, and in 1915, a few months before his death, he became a British subject. In 1916 King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him. He died in London in February 1916.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 15, 1843
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      February 28, 1916
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

Table of Contents

The eighteen essays in this collection show Henry James (1843-1916) in a new and unexpected light - as a political commentator and social reformer. His acute powers of observation, his unerring feel for social nuance, and his abiding interest in the news, conversations, and controversies of the moment make these essays a witty and entertaining illumination of American, British, European, and colonial society in the years from 1878-1917.
Read More Show Less

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